With all the talk over the past year about self-publishing on Kindle, I finally decided to delve into it in January. I finished up a short ebook that I'd had on the back burner for a few months and submitted it. It was accepted and published in less than a day. The process wasn't hard, but there are a lot of formatting specifications, and I had to reformat it twice to get it to go through. Being so used to Web writing, I hadn't done any tabbed paragraph indents. Who knew?
The niche I chose isn't over-saturated, but it isn't totally wide open either, so I didn't really have much idea about how sales would go or what to expect from any of it. It's been out for about seven weeks now and has sold exactly eight copies. However, sales aren't the only way to do things through Kindle publishing.
If you publish through them exclusively for 90 days, you can join a program they have that makes your book available through their lending library. With that, Amazon Prime members can check it out for free. Why would you want to do that? Good question. The whole idea sounded kind of stupid at first, but I did some research and found out that it's actually a pretty good way to market the book. When people check it out, you have a better chance of getting some reviews, and if you ever buy from Amazon, you know how important reviews are.
And, you don't go without royalties when it's checked out. There's a monthly fund that Amazon keeps for authors who offer their books through the library program, and you get a small percentage of it each time your book is checked out. The amount you earn for it depends on the total library checkouts on the site as well as how many of yours were checked out over the month. Last year, the Authors Guild wasn't happy about this program, but that was a month before Amazon actually started paying authors whose books were checked out. I don't know how much my meager two checkouts have earned, but I'm glad that it's getting out there. My Kindle book may not be sweeping the site by storm, but with zero, and I do mean zero, marketing, it is still selling about a copy a week as well as being checked out. It may sound backward, but I wanted to test the waters a little before putting time into marketing it.
I don't see anything at all wrong with self-publishing non-fiction ebooks. Non-fiction, particularly practical information, changes so quickly that it's actually a pretty good idea to do so in a lot of cases. However, this hasn't changed my mind about self-publishing fiction. Unless it's a short story or short novella that just can't find a home elsewhere, I think it's kind of a cop out. Over the years I've read so many times about writers who were rejected again and again and took that opportunity to make their manuscripts better. The woman who wrote "The Help" was rejected several times, and it made her go over the book again and again, rewriting it and trying to make it something publishable. Apparently, the first drafts were wretched and had little to no actual plot. But by taking months to rewrite, submit, get rejected and rewrite again, she came out with something that was as good as she could make it and that has won her worldwide acclaim. Now imagine if she's just said, "Screw it, I'm going to publish it myself. They just don't appreciate me!" Yeah.